Spin ice, fractionalization, and topological order

C. Castelnovo, R. Moessner, Shivaji Lal Sondhi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

269 Scopus citations


The spin ice compounds Dy 2Ti 2O 7 and Ho 2Ti 2O 7 are highly unusual magnets that epitomize a set of concepts of great interest in modern condensed matter physics: Their low-energy physics exhibits an emergent gauge field and their excitations are magnetic monopoles that arise from the fractionalization of the microscopic magnetic spin degrees of freedom. In this review, we provide an elementary introduction to these concepts and we survey the thermodynamics, statics, and dynamics - in and out of equilibrium - of spin ice from these vantage points. Along the way, we touch on topics such as emergent Coulomb plasmas, observable Dirac strings, and irrational charges. We close with the outlook for these unique materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-55
Number of pages21
JournalAnnual Review of Condensed Matter Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


  • Coulomb phase
  • Debye-Hückel theory
  • Dirac strings
  • magnetic monopoles
  • rare earth titanates
  • two-component plasma


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